Linux optimize

You can't get there from here: Linux platform hurdles

Do you have problems with some companies or organizations that don't extend good customer support to Linux users? If you have pet peeves, let us know.

I found this post on Consumerist.com from an irate Linux user who can not log in to his Citibank accounts online:

I frequently struggle with Citibank because they seem to have decided to not support Linux and Firefox as clients for their online credit card account management sites.

From some of the comments to the post, it's not clear that this problem is, in fact, affecting all Linux users. (And on a side note, one of the workarounds suggested is installing the Firefox User Agent Switcher extension that makes Firefox "look like" IE to sites that don't allow Firefox).

Still, it made me wonder how many Web sites and companies there are out there that make it impossible, or nearly so, for Linux users to do business with them online.

What incompatibility pet peeves do you have with online transactions? Are there other significant companies like Citibank that seem to be behind the curve on serving Linux-based customers?

About

Selena has been at TechRepublic since 2002. She is currently a Senior Editor with a background in technical writing, editing, and research. She edits Data Center, Linux and Open Source, Apple in the Enterprise, The Enterprise Cloud, Web Designer, and...

50 comments
Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

If a site is going to use Flash; great. Have the integrety to allow a graceful site downgrade for those who choose not to use flash. I've actually seen support sections of websits that where completely platform dependent due to flash or similar. Silverlight is another one that's going to become a pain as it gains popularity. These extra bling interfaces should be additional options not single points of failure.

rhomp2002
rhomp2002

I once saw a website for a computer build to your specs website where you had to have Flash even to look at what was available. Needless to say they did not get my business for the several computers I had built to my specs. I have also had companies that build to your specs that will not build unless you accept Windows Operating System. I told them I didn't want any operating system on it. I would put my own there and they would not budge. Also did not get my business.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

When I was shopping servers, HP was the only major vendor who officially recognized Debian. The rest recognize Red Hat and Suse in addition to Windows and VMware but HP included Debian in addition. Having vendor supplied .deb packages for the vendor specific hardware bits was very handy. Where I in your case though, I'd say "sure, toss an OEM Windows disk in with the machine if you like provided it's the 'free gift' for being a customer." (I can always use more free Windows licenses kicking around.. or to be kicked around) Seriously though, that does suck. It's madness that there are still vendors who are stuck in the old "but if we don't sell it with an OS it will just be used ti pirate one; so we better include Windows". They should be happy your not buying parts and assembling yourself not trying to force software into the sale.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

It'd be more efficient than updating my base Windows VM to the desired level while testing then restoring the stock image after. Other uses like resale are good options too. I'd just be bitter or finding a new vendor if I where forced to accept and pay for Windows when it was only the hardware I was asking to buy.

Deadly Ernest
Deadly Ernest

hardware people tossing in the current Windows OS discs - he sets up systems exclusively in Linux for a few small businesses, but he does a good business on the side selling the Windows licences and discs at half price to the locals - our consumer laws allows for the on selling of licences if you aren't using them.

Deadly Ernest
Deadly Ernest

why they lost your business and that you'd be bad mouthing them to all you know and why.

jkiernan
jkiernan

Last I checked, MyInvoice and WAWF, key systems for interfacing with the DoD and military, only work with IE.

LinuxPops
LinuxPops

Microsoft patented the behavior of Sudo. That's grounds enough for me.

ron.carlton
ron.carlton

I have worked on minor systems for the DOD and no thought was ever given to any browser but IE.

Forum Surfer
Forum Surfer

I use firefox whenever possible, but some people don't. I've experienced several websites that won't work in IE at all, yet work on Firefox. If you're going to design a public site, I feel you should make the effort to make it work in at least both Firefox and IE.

Deadly Ernest
Deadly Ernest

Firefox, like most browsers, is designed to work with the industry standards on web design, but MSIE is NOT, MS deliberately took a turn years ago to try and move the industry standards to a point where they could control them - they failed. MSIE 8 is reported to being fully compliant with the industry standards, and it's the first time MSIE has been so, if it is. Any web page that doesn't display right in IE is not doing so because the code is industry standard and it's one of the areas where IE has gone a different path.

Forum Surfer
Forum Surfer

The site designer should be out to satisfy ME, the customer. Millions of people use IE, which makes it a de facto standard. Just make it work with IE as well as ff, it isn't too much to ask. To me, the blame with the standards issue is irrelevant and of absolutely zero importance because I just don't care. I use a whatever browser or os suits my needs or environment at the time. I'm not particularly fond of any version of Windows or Linux. When it comes to the open source vs microsoft debate I'm pretty much an atheist.

Forum Surfer
Forum Surfer

they should give up trying to make it work with IE all together? Ignoring a large portion of the market sounds like an excellent market strategy. Most people are like me, they don't care about the standards. We just want the website to work. I'm fully aware of how we got to this point and Microsoft's insistence on going their own way in spite of efforts to put standards in place. It really doesn't bother me, I just want my website to work in either popular browser.

santeewelding
santeewelding

"L". Sometimes, your anal attention to detail is right on the money.

Deadly Ernest
Deadly Ernest

lately, I'm sure glad you didn't make one on your second last word in that message by starting it with the letter in the key one spot nearer the 'enter' key - that could have been embarrassing. But why take names, they never do anything with them. But if you want me to help out by writing the names on toe tags before we ship them to the morgue, well, I'm all for it.

santeewelding
santeewelding

Let's you and me go there, take names, and kick ass.

Deadly Ernest
Deadly Ernest

redesigned every time MS change their minds about their own set up for IE and release a new version. The web site was probably set up to work perfectly in what was the most common version of IE at the time the web site was created. Many sites that worked well in IE 5 didn't do so well in IE 6 or later, and the same happened with the release of IE 7, and again with IE 8. In the early days the browser makers each went their own way, with the top two being Netscape Navigator and MSIE. Then a set of industry standards were released and both MSIE and Netscape Navigator met the standards with their IE 4 and Navigator 4 - then an updated standard was released and both released a version 5 of their browser. Each release of the new standard has been an expansion of the old standard, so anything designed to meet the old standard would work in the new, however MS decided they'd do a few things different in IE 5, and again in 6, and 7 - with IE 8 they've come a lot more back in line with the standard as they finally got the message the standard wasn't being changed to suit them. If a web site doesn't display well in IE 7 or IE 8, it's probably because it was designed with the intent of being best in IE 6 and those MS variance aren't in IE 7 and IE 8. So, until the company gets around to paying to have a whole new web site done, they'll be issues. Also, a web site designed to work in IE 8 well may not display properly in IE 7, and a site designed for IE 7 will not work properly in IE 8.

ron.carlton
ron.carlton

A web browser should be a universal media tool. The diversion between what a browser can do started when Microsoft was killing Netscape. Now it is just crazy that there are these differences, where is the W3 standards?

Deadly Ernest
Deadly Ernest

doesn't like playing by industry standards, that's why we have all the driver issues with some hardware - they pressure companies into making hardware Windows standard not industry standard.

rhomp2002
rhomp2002

I have recently tried Opera as a browser and it works pretty well. However, I am in the process of looking for a home in a different city. When I go online with my favorite website for the city to check for what is available, it works great for Firefox but will not display anything but the screen heading in Opera. I contacted the company and they sent me to the web designer. I contacted the web designer and was told that they only supported Windows and did not have the time to add other browsers. When I told them it worked on Firefox, they were surprised and thought it was wonderful that it did but they still were not going to change. After that I found some more companies using that same web designer and Opera will not work with any of them. Firefox works with them all. I agree that the web browser needs to be a universal media tool. It is not at this point in time. I have been lucky with Firefox in that there are very few websites that won't work with it but Opera is a totally different kettle of fish and that is a real shame. In some ways I like Opera even better than Firefox but if I can't see the websites, why bother. Same goes for using that company.

rbees
rbees

display correctly try switching in/out of "fit-page-width". I find a lot of times that will fix the issues with pages that don't display right in Opera. On another note; anybody else have issues getting Ebay to allow uploading of pic's with firefox. The wife couldn't get it to work, even in xp.

SubgeniusD
SubgeniusD

And I'm using right now in fact. Given that Opera has consistently been the most W3C standards compliant browser for years it's ridiculous that there are sites that don't render properly. Their fault not Opera's. When you're on a site that doesn't work the Opera devs have brilliantly included a right-click function in the menu "Open with" - (a list of other browsers installed on your machine). I need to open some with FF from time to time but not often enough to be a deal breaker. And I always report such sites from the help menu "Report a site problem" to do my part for the Opera cause. With mail, chat, notes, rss feeds, numerous "widgets" (addons - extension) and much more it's more of an internet suite then just a browser. I'm even d/ling a torrent at the moment using the bare bones but functional Opera BT client.

conspiritech
conspiritech

UPS campusship fails with Linux. I tried 4 different browsers. At least with ArchLinux. Can't remember if I have used it with Ubuntu or not. Also the Arch/E17 firefox version is called shiretoko. That may be part of it.

nfstern
nfstern

Juniper Networks makes it difficult to use Linux for their VPN stuff and seems to have developed for IE primarily for their browser based interface. My company's switching over to them from Cisco and I think they're product is really junk.

Forum Surfer
Forum Surfer

My focus is on networking. Juniper seems to building a large client base due to their price point. I work for a mostly Cisco shop and I've had to fight off the Juniper recommendations from IT departments right and left. I don't like those guys. They make a great product, but I feel Cisco has them outclassed and outgunned in the enterprise segment.

Deadly Ernest
Deadly Ernest

data either.

eclypse
eclypse

That's kind-of how I view Cisco. They may have the best market share and be the most common, but I can't say they're the best - and they're way overpriced for what you get. But like Microsoft, everyone knows how to use Cisco... We have some Juniper gear (not a lot and not their top end stuff, either) and it works great for us and was priced pretty good, too. More than I can say for Linksys. They may be owned by Cisco, but even for what they call "enterprise" gear (that we tried _once_ when things were tight), their support is non-existant and the gear is crap. Bad interface and bad hardware (had one burn up!).

Forum Surfer
Forum Surfer

I've heard the same argument from Nortel proponents. We all saw what happened there. Juniper makes great products, but on the enterprise level I will stick with Cisco and their proven track record of world class reliability and customer support. I truly hope Juniper sticks around, that way Cisco is forced price themselves comparably.

dwdino
dwdino

Worst hangup you can make... Juniper has hit the nail on the head. The features you need at a price you can afford. Cisco has outpriced itself.

Forum Surfer
Forum Surfer

I think their involvement in trusted computing is nothing more than a by product of their partnership with IBM and Nokia - Siemens networks. Don't get me wrong, that doesn't justify it. But I think their focus was on maintaining those strategic partners. Juniper isn't out to make a name for themselves, they're out to sell products to people who can't afford Cisco any longer. Case in point, Juniper's sales people are instructed to contact finance departments and managers...not IT staffs. They can argue the price difference that way, not feature content compared to Cisco. I've heard it before repeatedly. "Hi, this is Bill with Juniper and Betty Joe from your finance department told me to speak with you.." Followed immediately by my response: "Click."

bus66vw
bus66vw

Juno/Net Zero ISP won't work with any Linux

SubgeniusD
SubgeniusD

Several years ago I researched this issue extensively in the forums here: http://www.dslreports.com/ and I'll bet it's the account activation software. After the account is activated (with Windows/OSX) you could multi-boot Linux, Solaris, OS/2 Warp and Haiku and they would all run over your connection.

bus66vw
bus66vw

I emailed them and got back a "no". The Winlinux, now available as Freespire, was the only version cleared for use on Juno per their web site. But the email from Juno tech made no reference to it nor did the tech indicate anything about the Linux patch needed (I found it on their site}. I tried anyway in 2008. I used Linux (knoppix) to log on using dial-up with the Linux software fix from Juno. I could only go to their page and that came up with a notice of "restricted access". I found posts on Linux forums dated this year, where others had had the same results. The general solution reply was to get another ISP and dump Netzero/Juno. Unless something changes at Juno/Netzero, It just won't work for the average dial-up user. But I will look into your link and see if there is a work around. THX

bwkeys
bwkeys

Verizon DSL only supports Win and OS/X. And I'll show my ignorance here- why should this be so? I plan on running the line into a router, which is using (of course) linux.

SubgeniusD
SubgeniusD

Earthlink DSL activation software only worked with Win/OSX when I opened an account in 2005. After account setup with my XP machine I had to then add my two Linux machines to the account and there has never been any specifically Linux based issues since. I was rather new to Linux at the time but I still don't think there was a way around that road block. But during the inevitable connection issues if you ever mention Linux to "Bangalore Bob" forget it. "Sorry-not supported" - meaning no tech support. You're on your own if you insist on using Lonix. Yet once, after pressing a connection issue for hours I eventually got a real techie who said he ran Red Hat and declared Linux was the OS of the future. So there is hope for the world after all.....

vulturex
vulturex

I know the root of the issue far too well. cheap web developers out sourced via visa mills who only know how to code for one platform: IE. The companies gets cheap staple web development talent and the end result is another cookie cutter corporate web site that plugs into an already existing outrageously expensive Oracle backend.

ron.carlton
ron.carlton

I agree, but these same companies typically use SQLServer because they aren't smart enough to look for a non Microsoft source for anything. And don't forget that almost all corporations build their sites with contractors with short contacts ... so you end up with code written by several people, some expert, some beginner. Frankly I have seen sites that are lucky to run at all because of this, I have seen code that is so bad I throw it out and rewrite it, I once fixed a six page stored procedure by rewriting it in one page. When will corporations quit being so stupid? They ought to actually hire people and give them decent benefits and security? They will get in exchange code that is written by a team that grows with the project, can maintain it more efficiently, can be "professional". The "bottom line" corporations constantly cite as their motive don't know how to properly calculate bottom line and ROI.

phil
phil

My ISP (Virgin.net) has an online help system that demands to know which version of Windows you are using. Unless you pretend to have Windows you can'tr post the query. The phone support system is the same, tell them you are using Linux and they end the call.

douglasalt1
douglasalt1

On Saturday last whilst installing a new laptop with Windows 7 Home premium for a private client, I found that the Virgin (Blueyonder.co.uk) anti-virus software does not support Windows 7 in any edition. Several phone calls to their helpdesk and support teams stated that support for the brand new product will not be in place until January 2010 (to Virgin's credit they will be refunding the cost of a years subscription to McAfee A/V). BT, my own ISP were ahead of the game.

Deadly Ernest
Deadly Ernest

that worked in XP doesn't work in Vista or Win 7 properly.

Deadly Ernest
Deadly Ernest

wrote in and told them why I was switching services, and then told all my friends what I was doing and why - the owners had recently changed hands and changed the help system. They got over 300 clients switching services in the one month because of that issue. Sometimes the clients can be heard.

jsolarski
jsolarski

all local government offices in IL do not support Firefox or Linux, neither does quick book, or HR Block (except it let me proceed with warnings that things may not work)....I am constantly making complaints to help desks and supports site to support at least Firefox. I am finding more and more financial sites that only except IE. if they cant support my Browser then i cannot be there customer is how i look at.

Deadly Ernest
Deadly Ernest

as they're a government body and the law says you must. I did get one company recently, I couldn't use their online purchase system since it only worked with Win XP SP 2 or later. But I was going to be in their city the following week - I made my $250 purchase in cash, all in one dollar coins, none in rolls or bags, just a great big tin. The manager was upset about it, I told him if I'd been able to use their on-line system last week, I'd have done it on my credit card, but I didn't have enough left on that this week, so I'm paying cash from my change over the last three months. He was still not happy, especially when I pointed out I'd have gone to a slightly dearer competitor if I hadn't been visiting this week and could wait - that got his attention. Now, their web site is under a rebuild of the shopping cart system.

slacker400
slacker400

Yeah I had this complaint myself... Months ago. Citibank did get around to correcting the problem. But don't take my word for it. Who programs websites to use active-x or IE exclusive? Really? I guess there's still a market for them...

rhomp2002
rhomp2002

I also have a Citibank account and card and I have had no problems accessing them online ever. None at all. And that is with about 8 different distros I have tried over the past couple of years. Wonder what the differenc is.

Deadly Ernest
Deadly Ernest

to write the sites from the graphics arts training.

jlwallen
jlwallen

In my opinion the Citibank issue isn't so much about Linux as it is about lazy web developers only wanting to develop for one platform - IE. Not only is this a '90s era way of thinking it's a narrow sited way of thinking. People use different platforms and different browsers. People are using Linux, Windows, OS X, IE, Firefox, Opera, Mobile devices, Netbooks - the topography is rapidly changing and these companies better be much more agile than Citibank is showing it is. Otherwise they are going OS/2 Warp themselves.

jck
jck

It's not a '90s era way of thinking. It's the Microsoft way of thinking. Really sad. No wonder I quit doing business with them.